Establishing the ‘Truth’ of the Matter: Confessional Reflexivity as Introspection and  Avowal

Joseph Webster

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The conceptualisation of reflexivity commonly found in social anthropology deploys the term as if it were both a ‘virtuous’ mechanism of self‐reflection and an ethical technique of truth telling, with reflexivity frequently deployed as an moral practice of introspection and avowal. Further, because reflexivity is used as a methodology for constructing the authority of ethnographic accounts, reflexivity in anthropology has come to closely resemble Foucault’s descriptions of confession. By discussing Lynch’s (2000) critical analysis of reflexivity as an ‘academic virtue’, I consider his argument through the lens of my own concept of ‘confessional reflexivity’. While supporting Lynch’s diagnosis of the ‘problem of reflexivity’, I attempt to critique his ethnomethodological cure as essentialist, I conclude that a way forward might be found by blending Foucault’s (1976, 1993) theory of confession with Bourdieu’s (1992) theory of ‘epistemic reflexivity’.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)65-76
    Number of pages11
    JournalPsychology and Society
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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